Cracking the Code: Unravelling Male Infertility through Tests and Diagnosis
The myth that infertility is a “female problem” is being dismissed, now that it has come to light that a large percentage of infertility in couples is due to the male factor. Since this fact has been revealed and less stigma is attached to it, there is more action that can be taken when a couple fails to conceive within 12 months of unprotected sex.
Fertility tests need to be conducted on both the male and female partners, as the causes for infertility can be varied and are sometimes difficult to decipher, especially in men.
For male infertility, the initial investigations and workup will include details of the man’s medical history. Queries will include past illnesses, surgeries, medications and style of living which could negatively affect fertility. A physical examination of the genitals will also be done. Other tests conducted will be:
Semen analysis: This is a crucial test that measures the quality and quantity of sperm in semen. It is inclusive of the morphology (shape and structure), concentration (number), the motility (movement) and any infection in the sperm. At times, more than one analysis is required to get an accurate result.
Scrotal Ultrasound: Once a physical examination reveals varicocele (swollen veins) or any other issues, a scrotal ultrasound is usually performed, where the computerised image of the reproductive organs can give a more detailed explanation.
Hormone and genetic testing: Since low testosterone levels and other hormones can affect fertility, blood tests may be taken. If the sperm count is very low, a genetic blood test may be recommended, to check for abnormalities in the Y chromosome and any other congenital problem.
Urinalysis post-ejaculation: If there is sperm present in the urine, after ejaculation, it could be due to retrograde ejaculation, where semen is released into the bladder instead of through the penis.
Sperm Function Tests: Sometimes, despite the above tests, the cause for male infertility is not defined. Additional specialised tests are available to check the ability of the sperm, after ejaculation, to penetrate and fertilise the egg. One of these is the DFI (Sperm DNA fragmentation index) test, which shows whether there is any DNA damage to the sperm.
If a diagnosis is made for the cause of infertility, there are various treatment options available – medication, surgery or ART (artificial reproductive therapy). There are various methods of ART, such as IVF (In vitro fertilisation) where the sperm and eggs are fertilised outside and then implanted in the uterus, or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) when a single sperm is injected into the egg or IUI (intrauterine insemination) where sperm is directly inserted into the uterus.
Based on the results of the above tests, the fertility specialist will be able to advise the couple on the best treatment method possible.
At Andrology Center, we go beyond the semen analysis test. We also conduct the DFI (sperm DNA fragmentation index) test, which gives more detailed results. We are the exclusive authorised provider of the official SCSA (sperm chromatin structure assay) test in India. Our modern facilities and exclusive technology guarantee unparalleled accuracy results which, in turn, help specialists and couples in the choice of optimal medical interventions.